Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Battledore and Shuttlecock

A Most Elegant Game


Just a couple of days ago I purchased a packaged set of Battledore and Shuttlecock for just over $15.00. I took it home with the thought that I would MAKE my children play with me. That wasn't the case at all! In fact, there seems to be continual arguments on whose turn it is to hold a paddle. So much for video games and cartoons. I think that we have found a new old pastime.

What is this game? Well, I believe it to be a primitive version of badminton  The goal is to hit the shuttlecock, and not let it touch the ground. The last person that hit the birdie wins. Or, if there is more than two players, the person with the most hits before it hits the ground wins, with the understanding that the shuttlecock must be continually passed. The set that I purchased has solid pine paddles (the battledore) and the birdie has real feathers and a cork where the rubber is in the modern version (shuttlecock). Some of the battledore were netted, as with the pictures above.

But, not all of the paddles were netted, take a look at these...



Is it my Indian blood, or just a sense of artistry that makes me want to paint my paddle to make it my own? 
Maybe I could do something like this? And, even contemplate making my own shuttlecocks as these?


Or, go the more ornate and Oriental route?


I may just do that! But why, you may ask, is a game listed on a blog about houses? Well, people played this game for centuries. This was a game played outdoors, or even indoors! Although, due to the weather, we are playing indoors! And, this was very popular within the times of my interest. Yes, I think that I will paint my paddles, but I just don't know what yet!


Maybe there will be enough people locally who would be interested in playing? Let me know!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

"Tales From The Green Valley" Part 2

PBS Show On 17th Century Farming


This is a continuation of my findings of the show from last week. I highly recommend that you watch this show!

Episode 6

  • People drank up to eight quarts of beer a day – most of which was low alcohol. This was due to the horrible conditions of the water. Interestingly, the beer provided a lot of vitamins. When the temperance movement kicked in, it was found that a lot of people lost their only source of vitamin B and many people had malnutrition strictly from the loss of their beer. (Not to mention dehydrated. Sorry, couldn’t resist!)
  • Arsenic trysulphide was used as a pest control in the noble’s flower gardens.
  • Tax was levied on every sack of grain that was milled. (I think I might have known this, it does sound familiar.)
  • In the year 1400, the Welsh leader destroyed English mills knowing that this would sever the income of the English landowners. (reminds of the song…”In the Year 2525 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=izQB2-Kmiic )
  • “On the continent women just did not have that much freedom.” This was true of every person, not just women. Brits had much more freedom than the people in the rest of Europe.
  • Chafing dishes were very popular during the 17th century.

Episode 8

  • Holly branches dropped down the chimney to clean it.
  • Homespun wool linen or hemp for their textiles. (This may be obvious to those that are interested in clothing and other textiles.)
  • People talked about someone and how clean their hose was – it was a reflection on a woman’s character. That was true up until recently, and still is in some circles. (Don’t visit my place then!)


Episode 9

  • Charcoal making was a specialty and men traveled around “almost like gypsies.” I always wondered how charcoal was made!
  • Soak the salted bacon to take some of the salt out. I wondered why my grandma used to soak the hams, now I know!
  • Horsehair became invisible in the water, which is why it was used for fishing line.
  • Cheese cake in pastry case and was flavored with rosemary and currants.

Episode 10

  • Milk changes through the year due to the grass the cow was eating. I grew up on a farm, and I don’t remember this.
  • Chose one calf to sacrifice per year because the stomach fluid was used for cheese making. Interesting!
  • The hard cheese takes longer in the press: two to three months with turning cheese.
  • Highest income for the farmers, and the larges export especially in the form of broadcloth for the wealthy’s clothing. Broadcloth is really nice!
  • Wheat has changed in height over the years because of modern the modern wheat has been bred to have less stalk. I knew this because of my study on 18th century farming. What the show doesn’t say is that the stalks were used as bedding for the animals.
  • I loved the meat (lamb) pears. This was a food fashion of the time, to make one food look like something else.

Episode 11

  • Flux is diarrhea. Um, yucky
  • People thought that diarrhea was a cause of death no matter if it was just caused by eating too much fresh fruit.
  • Rice and bread puddings started off in the 17th century by being stuffed into animal intestines. Yeah, why eat the intestines when you don’t have to!
  • It was required that you had a permit to make soap.

Episode 12

  • Michaelmas’ main feast was goose.
  • Highland farms had more livestock than grains compared to the lowland farms. This should be obvious due to the mountains.
  • Twelve months for a full wheat field. I guess I didn’t realize how long wheat took to grow. We never had wheat on our farm.
  • The most expensive candles were made of bees wax. This too is obvious, I think, but it was interesting to watch.

Friday, February 1, 2013

"Tales From The Green Valley" Part 1

Wonderful PBS Show

A wonderful lady, in fact An Historical Lady, told me about this great show and asked that I watch it. “Tales from the Green Valley” is a PBS show that is a type of historical reality show, reenacting the 17th century farmer’s experience. This was a lot of fun to watch! I learned a lot, but there were some inaccuracies. I watched it entirely on Youtube. You can too!  Here are my notes:

Episodes 1-2

  • The men got on top of the plow to try and make furrows like “modern”.  This would be an obvious choice, to try and do something like what we see now. However, the plows during the 17th century did not cut deep into the soil. That was one reason that production was lower then.
  • The bottom of the bread was placed on the cinders, so that it cooked sitting. The bottom came out black and dirty. The bread was always cut from the bottom up. So, the wealthier, or those higher up the social ladder, would receive to top cutting, while the bottom was for those more “common”. This was how we got the term “upper crust.”
  • Corsets were not always boned with bone, but they were boned with wood and reeds. This does make more sense, because wood was easier to come by. The center wooden piece was carved decoratively because it was closest to your heart.
  • Only the gentry used forks. It was still relatively new, having been only recently imported from Italy.

Episode 2

  • Posies were good English salad greens! This went out of fashion in the Victorian period.
  • Expected roasted meat only twice a week – Thursday and Sunday.

Episode 3

  • One of the main problems with cows were pneumonia because of the poor ventilation in the cow shed.
  • Salt scrub was used to scrub tables, etc.
  • In making the straw roofs, they would comb the straw to get “rubbish” out and to help water flow.

Episode 4

  • Peas were good for the soil even if they did not understand the chemistry. Soil modification due to fertilizers did not occur until the next century. So, this point is not accurate.
  • Faggots are a bundle of sticks.
  • So much money was being sent out of the country to buy currants that they were banned so that the money would go to the troops.
  • They fed their cows turnips. This also was inaccurate. Turnips were not a fodder crop until the next century.

Episode 6

  • They created a “living fence”, this was absolutely amazing to see. I recommend this episode just for this!
  • They smoked a ham in the chimney. OK!

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